Entrepreneurs, educationalists, charity workers and world-famous artists from Huddersfield have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Graham Leslie, former chairman of Huddersfield Town and the man widely credited with the move to the new stadium, receives a CBE.
Now Visiting Professor of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield, Professor Leslie, 71, who lives in Holmfirth, has been recognised for services to entrepreneurship.
The creator of pharmaceutical company Galpharm International Limited, he was the Founder Chairman and creator of the world’s first ever 25,000 all-seater stadium in a joint venture with Sir John Harman, then-Leader of Kirklees Council.
Watercolourist Ashley Jackson receives the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to art. Based in Holmfirth the 76-year-old said the award was truly unexpected.
“It gives me great pleasure to have been awarded the British Empire Medal on behalf of the arts and community. I have always said I wanted to be ‘the People’s Artist’, making art accessible to everyone. I hope that others will see this award as a reflection of my passion for Yorkshire, its landscape and people, and as such the BEM truly belongs not just to me but to Yorkshire. I wish to thank everyone who has supported me and my vision.”
Dr Nick Clarke, 58, from Holmfirth, Head of Professional Regulation at the NHS, is awarded the CBE for services to Acute Care and Workforce while working for the NHS.
Until February this year he led the team in the Department of Health in England that is responsible for professional regulation and standards in the health sector. He was also responsible for commissioning the review of whistleblowing policy with a view to achieving an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS.
Dr Clarke, who is blind and a guide dog user, said he was “somewhat astounded” to be honoured. “In any area of life so many people are involved in delivering what needs to be delivered. I am just one person among many, but I am very pleased.”
Huddersfield businessman Ajaz Ahmed, who founded Freeserve, has been awarded the BEM for services to young people. The 53-year-old receives the honour for his work with mentoring charity Mosaic Network and via his role as an advisory board member at the University of Huddersfield.
Mr Ahmed started working with Mosaic six years ago. As part of his voluntary work with the organisation he has delivered inspirational speeches and proved to be a role model for children from ethnic minority backgrounds. The charity was founded by the Prince of Wales in 2007.
He said: “It’s absolutely amazing. I am so happy. I grew up in Fartown in a house with an outside toilet. I failed all my exams at school. My first job paid me £30 a week. I’m pleased that I have managed to do this from where I started. I’m true to Huddersfield. I’ve never moved and never plan to.”
Shazia Azhar, head teacher at Spring Grove Junior and Infants School in Huddersfield, has been awarded the MBE for services to education. Mrs Azhar, 47, who was nominated as Teacher of the Year by the Huddersfield Examiner in 2013, has been described as “an inspirational woman”. Her teaching materials and lesson plans were disseminated to schools across Kirklees, impacting the learning of thousands of pupils.
“She said: “I am surprised and really pleased, particularly for other people in my position. It shows children that they can achieve their potential so I hope it can be seen as a role model for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) children as well. My family have been very supportive over the years. I hope they are proud of me.”
Long-serving charity worker Judith Powell receives the BEM for services to charity, specifically Operation Christmas Child. She used St James’s Church in Meltham as the base for the appeal, which sends gift-filled shoeboxes to thousands of needy people around the world.
Mrs Powell, 69, of Holmfirth, became district coordinator in 2004. In the past 12 years in Meltham more than 100,000 shoeboxes have been sent to underprivileged children in countries including Liberia and Romania.
“This is not a reward for me but for the whole team that works together on Operation Christmas Child,” said Mrs Powell, paying tribute to her fellow volunteers. “It’s right that they are recognised and I’m happy for them.”
Valerie Jean Bell also receives the BEM for services to community, Huddersfield and Kirklees.
Dr Ingrid Roscoe, 73, the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, is created Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Among her many roles she is patron of Huddersfield Choral Society, the Yorkshire Volunteers regimental Association and the National Coal Mining Museum for England, a trustee of Yorkshire Sculpture Park and president of Calderdale Community Foundation.